Hieros gamos in the drawings of Opicinus de Canistris

Diagram with Zodiac Symbols by Opicinus de Canistris,, Avignon, France, 1335–50. US public domain, wikimedia
Diagram with Zodiac Symbols by Opicinus de Canistris,, Avignon, France, 1335–50. US public domain, wikimedia

Opicinus de Canistris was a 14th Century Italian mystic who created cosmological diagrams. Above is one of his diagrams. According to Richard Salomon (1953) this diagram contains the: “full autobiographical notes covering the first forty years of the author’s life … inscribed into a scheme of forty concentric rings each of which corresponds to one year in the author’s life. A calendar ring surrounding the whole system gives every single day its fixed place within the scheme.” (p. 45)

When discussing the Hieros Gamos [sacred marriage] in the Archetypes of the Collective Unconscious, Carl Jung speaks the symbolical drawings of Opicinus de Canistris. Jung says:

“While, in Church mysticism, the primordial image of the hieros gamos sublimated on a lofty plane and only occasionally-as for instance with Mechthild of Magdeburg-approached the physical sphere in emotional intensity, for the rest of the world it remained very much alive and continued to be the object of especial psychic preoccupation. In this respect the symbolical drawings of Opicinus de Canistris afford us an interesting glimpse of the way in which this primordial image was instrumental in uniting opposites.” (Carl Jung, CW 9i, para. 295)

Notice in the middle of the image, second circle down, the male and female embracing each other. This appears to be a hieros gamos.  I have enlarged the section for your viewing pleasure…

Diagram with Zodiac Symbols by Opicinus de Canistris,, Avignon, France, 1335–50. US public domain, wikimedia
Diagram with Zodiac Symbols by Opicinus de Canistris,, Avignon, France, 1335–50. US public domain, wikimedia
Reference:
  1. A Newly Discovered Manuscript of Opicinus de Canistris: A Preliminary Report, Richard G. Salomon Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes Vol. 16, No. 1/2 (1953), pp. 45-57
  2. Opicinus de Canistris Diagram with Zodiac Symbols, At the Met.
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